Consciousness / human development / perception

Alex presently supervises PhD projects in psychology and education at Monash University and is also an adjunct supervisor of PhD and 4th year projects at RMIT University in biomedical sciences and psychology. Projects within translational outcomes, such as those that contribute to practice and counselling are encouraged.

PhD programs in psychology – Experimental or Developmental/Educational. PhD programs in counselling. PhD programs in education.

Melbourne Australia


  • Consulting on higher research degree projects
  • DPsych/MPsych: Clinical research skills in transpersonal (phenomenological) methodologies
  • External research projects and industry partnerships
  • Corporate research-practice nexus development

Completed projects

Theory of mind

Research since the 1980s has demonstrated the relationship between the acquisition of higher-order theory of mind (ToM) processes and moral behaviour. However, the relationship between more complex executive functions and morally-motivated action is still not entirely understood. One aspect of higher-order functioning relates to global availability of consciousness and working memory (WM), which is thought to relate ethically-driven behaviour not only in personal action but in terms of collective action in common or societal wellbeing.

Honours/PhD students at RMIT University are currently exploring evolutionary mechanisms that play a role in the development of phenomenal consciousness, specifically investigating the pro-social (i.e., Michael Graziano) hypothesis around theory of mind and the multiple draft model of conscious experience. Several empirical studies to examine the partial awareness hypothesis have been tested which will help to shed light on an evolutionary and developmental understanding of human consciousness.

Study link available soon.

Transpersonal approaches to narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)

There are conflicting studies related to impact that social media use on the dimensional trait of narcissism in the general population. While social media use has been linked to pro-social behaviour in an interconnected global society, studies have also identified ego-centric behaviours in relation to excessive social media activity. Broadly, this project considers a range of health-promotion and health-compromising behaviours related to social media use within specific populations.

Researchers approaching NPD from the psycho-analytic perspective as a disorder of object-relating have proposed socially-integrated programs of mirroring, soothing, and re-regulating psychic distress in PDs like NPD. A transpersonal theory and group protocol is being developed based on models that conceptualise the ego and the transpersonal self as interweaving facets of human consciousness.

Virtual reality habituation

The emergence of virtual reality (VR) in clinical and experimental psychology has prompted research into the efficacy and functional role of such technologies. Although current work has demonstrated efficacy in a broad range of applications (predominantly for the treatment of phobias and related conditions), the introduction of modern headsets and more portable VR/AR technologies have opened new research opportunities and highlighted important conceptual questions that have not been considered in the past. 

We’ve produced studies on various psychological constructs involved in VR, including physiological habituation, embodiment, presence, agency, and clinical applications: Example paper – High performance public speaking and VRE anxiety habituation

Prior honours/masters in psychology projects

  • Virtual reality training, presence, habituation, embodiment
  • Psychedelic experiences, immersion, entity encounters, predictors of set/setting
  • Body dysmorphia, body image, social media
  • Consciousness, theories and models around partial awareness hypothesis